Bulgaria plans to extend life of its single Nuclear Power Plant


Inside the control room of Unit 6, Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant (www.jb-photography.org)

The Bulgarian Energy Holding and Westinghouse Electric Company have signed an agreement about the service life extension of two units in Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant.

The Bulgarian Energy Holding and US company Westinghouse have signed a cooperation memorandum over the life extension of the two 1000MW Units of Bulgaria’s Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant. Licenses for operation expire 2017 and 2019 respectively but could be extended provided considerable upgrading is done on the reactors. Kozlodouy is the only operating nuclear power plant in the country, units 1-4 have been shut down in 2002-2006 as part of Bulgaria’s EU accession negotiations.

This is the second agreement that the Cabinet of PM Borisov has sealed with the US giant after a series of intensive talks about the supply of nuclear fuel (Bulgaria currently gets all of its fuel from Russia), the modernization of the Kozloduy plant and the construction of new reactor units.

According to sources from Kozlodouy, the life of the two reactors will be extended by 20 years and the project will cost 50 million Euro.

The memorandum with Westinghouse also includes the use, storage, and recycling of nuclear fuel, and, potentially, projects for the construction of new nuclear facilities in Bulgaria. This relates to the intentions of the Bulgarian government for construction of a two more reactors at Kozloduy (unit 7 and 8).

Meanwhile, the talks with Russia over the second Nuclear Power Plant near Belene are in a dead-end. Russia’s Rosatom pessimism grows with the endless delays of the Belene issue. Genady Tepkyan, VP of Atomstroyexport, a Rosatom subsidiary, is quoted by the Russian daily ‘Kommersant’, as saying that if the agreement with Bulgaria is postponed after 1 July, Belene Nuclear Power Plant would never be built.

Since red-letter date 1 July is just around the corner, Bulgaria’s Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Traycho Traikov predictably announced that Bulgaria would ask Russia for a new three-month talks freeze after 30  June. He explained that the consultants, UK’s HSBC, would need more time to prepare the report for the Belene Nuclear Power Plant. According to a previous agreement the new contract has to be signed by 1 July. Chances that this will happen are close to zero and today’s news prove once again the reluctance of Bulgaria’s government to make a firm commitment and end the painful Belene saga.

The end of the road for Belene Nuclear Power Plant? (www.jb-photography.org)

Note: Construction at Belene Nuclear Power Plant started in 1988 and at present several office buildings are finished and in use. Furthermore the reactor buildings are about halfway through their construction. Nobody knows exactly how much money was dumped into the project (figures depend on who you ask) but recently a 2009-report surfaced, claiming that 117 million Euro vanished from the project fund. Neither the money nor any documentation could be found.

(Sources: own research by Middle East & Balkans News) / Images: JB Photography

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About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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